County officials have said they will look for sponsors to make sure that the tradition of Fourth of July fireworks at the Columbia lakefront continues after the Kiwanis Club announced that it will no longer finance the event.
"We haven't gone too far in how it's going to be financed," Kevin Enright, a spokesman for County Executive Ken Ulman, said last week. " ... We'll make sure the tradition continues."
The Kiwanis Club spent $38,000 on the event last year with an all-volunteer staff, Enright said. He estimated that the cost would be about $50,000 this year, because the cost goes up each year and the county would not have the same full volunteer staff.
The Kiwanis Club, which has produced the day-long festivities that have drawn about 20,000 people for about 20 years, has said it can't continue to take on the event.
"We no longer have the people power to stage and manage an event as labor-intensive as this one," Jesse Schneider, co-president of the Kiwanis Club of Columbia, wrote in a statement.
The Kiwanis Club will redirect its community service activities toward other projects that can be run by fewer people or toward supporting a larger community organization. The organization has committed to help a childhood dental clinic, a walking program soon to be initiated by the PTA at Guilford Elementary School, will conduct food drives for the needy, will participate in the Relay for Life program in June and will work with the Howard County General Hospital Foundation in a coming art auction to raise money for the hospital's construction program, Schneider said.
The Kiwanis Club is working to rebuild its membership to be able to continue to provide services to the community. The Columbia Club meets at 6:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the Bob Evans restaurant off Route 100.